The Alberta Liberals have become the first political party in Canada to allow anyone to vote in a leadership contest regardless if they are party members. 

The party amended its constitution Sunday to open its leadership vote to anyone wanting to cast a ballot without first paying a $5 membership fee.


Hugh MacDonald joined the Liberal leadership race earlier this month. The vote is open to all Albertans whether party members or not. (CBC)

The fee was seen as a barrier to those who support the party, but did not want to become members, said party president Erick Ambtman.

"You're not saying you want to marry us, but you're saying you're willing to date," he said. "It's allowing people to engage with us without having to say we're going to go all the way."

The party hopes the unusual move will help leadership candidates attract Albertans to the party.

"Now all you need to do is convince everyone you know to spend 30 seconds online to get involved," he said. "The difference I think is astronomical in terms of the barrier to getting engaged and voting."

Four candidates — MLAs Laurie Blakeman, Raj Sherman and Hugh MacDonald and labour leader Bruce Payne — have announced their intention to run for the leadership.

The Liberal leadership election takes place Sept. 10.